CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Cimarex Energy Co. has begun assembling a plant in western Wyoming that's expected to substantially increase U.S. helium production.
Helium isn't just used to inflate birthday balloons. It plays an important role in magnetic resonance imaging, manufacturing computer chips and launching rockets.
Groundwork for the Cimarex plant began last year and assembly of the plant began in May. Denver-based Cimarex expects production of helium and methane to begin next year.
Half of the known helium reserves in the United States are in western Wyoming.
The supply is expected to become even more important as the federal government finishes selling off its strategic helium reserve in Texas over the next several years.